I’m learning to loathe the word “unrest.”

That’s because I’m seeing it far too often these days. Every day, my newsfeed includes items about unrest all around the world – India, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Pakistan, and even across the United States, including my hometown of Milwaukee.

I loathe the word because it means that violence has erupted and peace has eluded us once again.

Will I’m not completely naïve. I understand that unrest is part of the human condition, a consequence of Original Sin. I realize that the only perfect world will be the one that we find in eternity.

Jesus even predicted that there would be unrest, even among members of the same family.

“Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death,” he told his disciples. (Mt 10:21)

He also offered some encouragement, telling them that “whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 10:22)

Still, it doesn’t take away the sadness I feel when I see “unrest.”

For sure, it’s ridiculous to think that I could change the ways the world with a single blog post. It would be able to change it with 1 million blog posts, for that matter.

What I can change with a single blog post – I hope – is the way people think about unrest.

I know I’m not the only one whose newsfeed is filled with it. Yours probably is as well. And, if you’re like most other human beings, after a while of seeing the word repeatedly it becomes commonplace. Unrest becomes part of daily life. At that point it can start to lose its impact.

We should be concerned when we see the word “unrest.”

What’s more, we should be moved to action. Not action as in joining or promoting the unrest. Rather, we should be moved to counter it. We can do that by praying for the grace of a restful heart and by offering prayers for those whose hearts cannot be restful.

It’s an old prayer, and one that has been quoted, sung, and distributed time and again. But it’s still pertinent today. In fact, perhaps it’s even more pertinent than it ever was.

It’s the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Fitting, isn’t it?

Here’s what I’m going to do, and what I’m urging you to do as well. Pray the Prayer of St. Francis every time you read the word “unrest.” If you can’t take time to say the entire prayer, at least utter the most important line – “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Yes, unrest is unavoidable. There always will be some, somewhere, and to some degree. Our Lord said so. He even referred to himself as a sign of contradiction, meaning that his teachings, actions, and mere presence would not be accepted by all.

Regardless, he continually pointed to heaven, where peace would be lived wholly and eternally.

So, next time you read the word “unrest,” pray with me, won’t you?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Note: The USCCB has issued this statement: “In light of recent incidents of violence and racial tension in communities across the United States, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited all dioceses across the country to unite in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.”